Would it have been better if Pearl Jam had not gotten so HUGE?
I know, some of you are thinking, blasphemy! But hear me out (and then bang me on the head with the tambourine.)
I was thinking about this today while watching some select cuts fro the DVD's "Touring Band" and "Live at the Show Box". Years back, I thought "Touring Band" was the greatest and "Show Box" merely very good. Now I think the opposite. There was fire at that show. Look at Mike slam that Tele on the floor at the end of "Save You". Those guys were kicking ass there.
I've only seen PJ once- in 2012, Missoula, MT at the relatively smaller Adams center. Damn, what a show! Would I have said that if I saw them in some stadium? Me? Hell no. My personal preference is smaller venues. Better sound, more intimate, closer experience. At the Adams Center I was fairly far back in the balcony but still had a good sense of the player's movements, facial expression, etc. Those are the things that add value to a performance. You don't get that sitting 450 feet from a stage.
But let's not stop there. What about other aspects of a long standing band. The word that comes to mind is "hungry". It is very hard for a well established band with great longevity to remain hungry. How many pull it off? Neil Young, certainly- at least occasionally has.
But it's usually the lesser giants who keep cranking it out:
Dinosaur Jr- one of the reasons they are a favorite of mine is they still kick like Kato. Never made it HUGE, but they are giants to many.
Juliana Hatfield. She's been at it since the Blake Babies started up in '86. Her new album, Weird, is hot.
Mission of Burma. Those guys started clear back in '79, have created some amazing work and yet never made it big. Yet they're still at it, with no compromises.
And so forth.
So the question came to my mind- Would it have been better if Pearl Jam to had not gotten so HUGE? I think so. I'll bet some of the guys in the band might even agree. Maybe not. I might be full of crap. You tell me!
“Finding beauty in a broken world is creating beauty in the world we find.”
-Terry Tempest Williams
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